FAQ's for families and carers

Is all cannabis laced with ice now?

Unlike tobacco, alcohol or prescription medication, any drug that is not regulated can in theory, be laced with another substance. In our experience it is highly unlikely for an inexpensive drug (such as cannabis) to be contaminated with a more expensive drug such as Ice (methamphetamine). 

My daughter has told me she is going ‘cold turkey’ what does that mean?

Cold turkey refers to suddenly stopping using a drug (usually heroin, but could be another substance) and deciding to experience withdrawal symptoms for the short term rather than gradually reducing substance use over a longer period of time.

Symptoms will depend on the drug, amounts and length of use. There are risks associated with cold turkey and YoDAA usually advises a gradual reduction instead. You can Call YoDAA for specific advice if she is going through cold turkey right now. 

I found out my 16 year old son used pot last weekend. Has he got a problem I don’t know about?

Many young people try drugs without developing problems so your son doesn’t necessarily have a problem. We suggest reading this info about different patterns of drug use and about when drugs become a problem.

All her friends use but she just won’t disconnect from them. Why?

Humans are social beings. It is so important for us to be with friends and to be social. This is even more crucial for young people. Even if you don’t think a young person’s friends are any good for her, they are still her friends. Many young people find adding non using friends, or discovering new friendship groups rather than just “getting rid of” old ones can be great for well-being.

I would prefer my son to use drugs in our house so I know where he is. Is this the right thing to do?

Parents often have to grapple with so many competing values. For instance, keeping their child safe in the short term by allowing drug use in a safe contained environment versus feeling like they are condoning drug use. Without knowing your exact circumstances it is hard to be definitive re: right and wrong. But trying your best to keep your son safe in the short and long term should always be encouraged. Talk to YoDAA if you want to talk through your specific circumstance.

My son used after being 3 months clean. Why would he throw it all away?

Without knowing the specific circumstances of your son, slip ups like using again and even going back to regular use can be normal parts of a long term change process. Under some circumstances cravings to use can still be strong several months after last using. In addition, after 3 months your son may still be experiencing many high risk situations for the first time since not using. The most important thing is to continue supporting your son.

She keeps telling me she wants to quit but always smokes again –Is she just lying?

No not necessarily. Making changes can take some time and if your daughter wants to reduce her smoking it's likely she feels frustrated as well. Change doesn’t just occur because a young person has decided they want to. Even when a young person is ready, there can be barriers making lasting change difficult. This article on understanding change may explain more.

My son uses cannabis and my husband and I have different ideas about what rules should apply to drug use in the house. Does that matter?

Generally it would be recommended that there is consistency with limits and consequences. Even if you don’t necessarily have identical values regarding drug use, agreeing on consistent limits and consequences will make things easier for you and your son.

Who can help when I have had enough?

Looking after yourself is one of the most important aspects of supporting someone who is experiencing problems. There are numerous services designed specifically to support families and carers. Have a look at this information about family programs and talk to YoDAA about what you need.

Is it my fault that my daughter has a drug problem?

Parents and carers often feel guilt and shame when someone they love develops problems. But there is no single cause of drug problems- instead there are many factors that contribute. This article may be helpful in explaining this in more detail.

My son is violent when he drinks. He has come close to hurting his father and I but I don’t want to call the police. What should I do?

That sounds so stressful. It is normal to not want to expose people you love to the police and the legal system and there are plenty of circumstances where it could be argued its best not to. But unfortunately when anyone’s safety is in jeopardy it is very difficult to suggest otherwise. Keeping yourself and others as safe as possible should always be the highest priority. Talk to YoDAA for more ides and discussion.

My oldest son has a drug problem. Will my 14 year old daughter develop a problem too?

Not necessarily. Drug problems develop due to a combination of factors. Being from the same family it is likely that your daughter will have some factors in common with her brother but there will also be differences.

Why did detox let my daughter leave-She just went and smoked again?

Withdrawal units are almost always voluntary. No doubt staff would have used all their skills to support your daughter to stay engaged in the program but ultimately a young person is allowed to make their own decisions. Unless immediate harm is foreseeable it is part of the developmental and learning process for a young person to try making independent decisions-even if they don’t seem right to an adult.

How do I talk to my daughter about the fact that I am worried?

Raising your concerns with someone you are worried about can be difficult and daunting. But it is also important you do so-especially when it comes to young people. This article has some tips and suggestions and might help you.

My son/daughter left detox and is still using. Is this normal?

Yes! Many young people who go to detox use again. This is not a sign of ‘failure.’

Time in detox (5 days or 5 hrs) is time away from substances in a safe environment with positive mentors.

Whilst this may not lead to quitting in the first go, it's a time of ‘taking stock’ thinking about goals and learning about services that are there to help as they make changes.

Some YP will return to detox a few times - each stay builds on the last.

How common is Ice use?

About 2% of the general population in Australia use Methamphetamines (Meth)– of which ice is a common form. Australia wide, Meth use is seen more amongst adults over the age of 20.

There are still a number of young people who do use meth however and amongst young people seeking help for drug problems, Meth is currently the 3rd most common drug reported.

Can I force a young person to go to treatment?

This is one of the most common questions we receive at YoDAA – the short answer is no.

All youth drug and alcohol treatment options in Australia are voluntary, meaning, though staff at the detox will try to encourage a young person to stay and work towards their goals, staff have no legal power to keep a young person in treatment.

Having said this, youth AOD workers are very skilled at engaging young people who may be suspicious or reluctant to participate in treatment.

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